So, last weekend saw the first away hash of the year, up in the chilly environs of Pinhel, near Guarda and the Serra da Estrela. It was a great weekend, as I am sure all present would attest, even if memories might be somewhat hazy in one or two cases.
When Spanker and I arrived, with Dave and Harry, after a circuitous approach due to the hotel's own sat-nav co-ordinates which took us to a field on the edge of a desolate village about twenty-five kilometres from Guarda, we were impressed by the room and facilities. After a beer in the bar, we set off for the city only to discover that there were no taxis after eight o' clock, there or back. Anyway, we had a good meal and brought back a substantial quantity of rustic wine from a bar which we worked on back at the hotel. Mrs Slocombe's non-appearance the next day was firmly blamed on 'the quality of the wine, not the quantity, honest guv.'
Spanker and I involuntarily opted to eschew breakfast the next morning in favour of sleep, and were woken by Boozy Woozy on the internal phone. The only one I could find to answer was beside the toilet - I had always wondered why they put phones there. He informed me that everyone bar Sanath had gone in search of snow so we got ourselves going and set off as well.
After an hour or so we reached Torre in the Serra da Estrella, and found it covered in snow, with loads of people skiing and snow boarding, and, more interestingly, falling off the chair lifts. Repeatedly. The sky was clear and the sun out - all most pleasant. Then came the phne call from Monica and Allan, who had just arrived.
"Are you coming?"
"We'll check into the hotel first."
Later: "Hi, are you on your way?"
"Well, no, we're having lunch in Guarda."
"Okay - see you for tennis, later?"
"Um, possibly not. We've just ordered a litre of wine."
Later: "Ello. Are you back from the snow?"
"We're on the way."
"We're on our third Maciera!"
"See you later, then."
"We'll just have another l'il drink first."
At about six fifteen we came in from the tennis court, via the bar, to find them there, to our surprise. Monica was grinning, telling us about the five, or was it six Macieras, and Allan was trying to tell the local barman that he lived in the Dão region, not Beira Interior, and so he wanted a Dão wine. The wine was the crucial thing, though, and we went up to have a shower and brief lie down with them declaring the sleep was for wimps and that hashers are not what they used to be.
An hour and a half later, we returned to find Basil Fawlty and Joan Rivers at the bar.
Eventually we got them into dinner, and food seemed to have a calming effect. Eventually.
After a cracking repast and more wine at the bar we all headed to our rooms rather early for a hash weekend, but it was all for the best as it meant that everyone was up and ready for a ten o'clock (yes, in the morning) hash start the next day. We gathered outside the lobby, which doubled up as the first checkpoint, in the chill morning air, before heading swiftly out into the hills and fields nearby. It was akin to moorland at times, ribbed with black skeletons of trees and bushes that left their mark on your clothes and skin. The harsh hillsides merged into small fields and winding lanes crossed here and there. At one point we descended a frighteningly steep slope and gathered at the bottom waiting for the back markers speculating on what would happen were it to be an on-back. Then it was pointed out that so far back were Walkie-Talkie and friends that had the rest of us run down then back up they would be none the wiser. They in turn were (apparently) peeved to find, having put in a spurt at the bottom to join us running when they rounded the last corner, that we had all gone anyway.
Steve - Dodger - Rogerson, on his return after three and a half years, zipped about in spurts as of old, and led us all home, on an hour and three-quarters after an invigorating - if shockingly pit-stop-free - run. Mrs Slocombe, it was pointed out, runs at a rather more sedate pace without his Pussy pulling him by the wrist.
After down-downs and the luxury of a shower, we headed to Guarda for the bash, before a dozy (for non-drivers) return to Porto. Well done Boozy-Woozy and Mrs Slocombe for a great weekend.